Lola T70 wins ‘Denny Hulme Trophy’ at the Silverstone Classic.
In a race that offered more than the usual challenges to competitors, Martin Birrane and Ron Cumming brought Birrane’s Lola T70 MklllB home comfortable winners. The margin of one minute to second placed John Grant was clear evidence of the skill and professionalism of drivers and pit crew in a race that required maximum concentration from all involved.
Starting in 20 th place from the ninth row of the grid was evidence of a qualifying session affected by a lack of top end speed. Later discovered to be caused by low fuel pressure the problem was solved by adjustment leaving the Team time to evolve a set up to suit all eventualities – the weather was being unkind and extremely unpredictable.
As the cars began their parade lap the rain came and inexorably worsened as the race continued. Taking the first driving stint Ron Cumming had no intention of taking unnecessary risks. With most of the cars on slicks and a 1 ½ hour race ahead caution was the word.
However that message did not seem to have reached Ollie Hancock who disappeared into the lead at an amazing rate in his Lola T212. Next up for the first 12 laps was the Leo Voyazides John Young Lola T280 and things were looking good for Lola.
Despite driving steadily by his standard, on lap four Cumming achieved third place although this was aided by a number of competitors pitting for full wet tyres. By lap seven the rain had worsened to a point where slicks were no longer an option. It was then we witnessed something quite special. With just a two man crew of David Scotney and John Bright, the T70 received four tyres and was on it’s way in just 98 seconds rejoining the race in 21 st place.
The performance difference was staggering and within a couple of laps ‘Rocket’ Ron was lapping 28 secs quicker than previously. In a display of controlled aggression Ron proved beyond doubt his mastery of the car and conditions and it was a spectators delight.
So engrossed was Ron (or perhaps just enjoying himself) he missed the planned driver changeover at the 21 lap mark but had
the car in the lead by the following tour. His memory jerked by some frantic signalling, the car pitted and Birrane took over at the end of lap 25. Sadly not soon enough to avoid a one-minute penalty for exceeding the drivers time limit.
Notwithstanding the penalty Martin Birrane maintained the lead and took the chequered flag on lap 28 when the race was halted prematurely due to worsening track conditions. The winning margin was a full minute to John Grant’s Chevron B16.
A good day for Lola was complemented by Richard Meins and Chris Lillingstone-Price finishing third in another T70 lllB, Carlos Barbot and Clive Baker T70 lllB sixth, The Hancock family tenth, The Bailly brothers T70 lllB eleventh, The Smith family T70 lllB eighteenth, Steve Tandy and Peter Chambers T70 lllB twentieth, The Jones/Tizzard Mk1 T70 in twenty fourth and Williams/Clarkson twenty sixth in their T160.